Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the IRGC, has denied the UK’s claim that Iranian speedboats tried to seize a British oil Tanker in the Persian Gulf in reaction to the recent seizure of an Iranian supertanker in Gibraltar.
The IRGC’s Navy on Thursday rejected a media report by CNN which claimed a number of IRGC speedboats approached a UK oil tanker and tried to stop it in the Strait of Hormuz, but withdrew after a British warship warned them off.
In a statement, the IRGC said it has had no confrontation with foreign vessels over the past 24 hours. The IRGC noted its vessels keep patrolling the Persian Gulf waters based on the routine operating procedure and the missions entrusted to it.
The IRGC underlined its forces are able to stop foreign vessels immediately within its geographical area of operation once they are ordered to do so.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also denied CNN’s claim later on Thursday.
“The British tanker has apparently crossed the Strait of Hormuz. Their claims are worthless and aimed at escalating tension. They make such claims a lot, and use these allegations to put a lid on their weaknesses.”
CNN quoted two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident as saying that the IRGC boats unsuccessfully tried to seize the British oil tanker Heritage in the Persian Gulf Wednesday.
The report claimed that the tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by the Iranian boats.
“The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters,” CNN quoted the officials as saying.
“A US aircraft was overhead and recorded video of the incident, though CNN has not seen the footage,” the report added.
The report further alleged that the UK’s Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose had been escorting the tanker from the rear. “It trained its deck guns on the Iranians and gave them a verbal warning to back away, which they did.”
Montrose is equipped on the deck with 30 mm guns specifically designed to drive off small boats. UK officials had previously confirmed that the Montrose was in the region performing a “maritime security role.”
A UK government spokesman later confirmed the report, saying that the “HMS Montrose positioned itself between the three boats and the tanker British Heritage before issuing verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels.”
He described the Iranians’ actions as “contrary to international law”.
Iran had earlier warned the UK over its illegal seizure of an Iranian supertanker in Gibraltar, saying there will be consequences for London if it refuses to release the tanker.